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Police officer 'blown away' by plea deal in Manchester holdups

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 02. 2017 9:31PM

MANCHESTER — A Manchester police captain voiced his frustration to police commissioners Wednesday over a plea deal for a man charged with two felony counts of attempted armed robbery, one of which involved gunfire.

Capt. Ryan Grant said Joshua Gagne, 19, could avoid jail time under the deal.

“To say that we were completely blown away would be an understatement,” said Grant, who called the sentence “ridiculously low.”

Grant said Gagne was arrested after an extensive investigation into as many as seven armed robberies on the West Side in January.

“We had people physically sitting on individual convenience stores on the West Side trying to catch this guy in the act,” Gagne said. “Lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened.”

Grant’s frustration caught the attention of the police commissioners, who agreed that such a deal raised questions.

“It did look like the department and Captain Grant would be revisiting the matter with the county attorney,” commission Chairman Scott Spradling said.

Grant said the case is an example of the disconnect between prosecutors and the city police force.

Hillsborough County Attorney Dennis Hogan declined to comment Wednesday, saying the case is still pending.

Gagne appeared Friday in Hillsborough County Superior Court-Northern District for a hearing that was continued to Aug. 22, court documents showed.

He is charged with using a pellet gun while attempting to rob two convenience stores, including the now-closed Rodriguez Market at 519 Amory St. on Jan. 23. Police said the robber wore a mask and said he had a gun. Grant said the clerk fired a gun at the man, who fled.

Gagne was arrested Jan. 30 as undercover officers staked out stores on the West Side.

Police said he put on gloves and a ski mask outside Crosstown Market at 270 Amory St. He started to enter the store, then turned around when he noticed a customer inside, according to grand jury indictments filed in April.

The undercover officers ran down Gagne and arrested him after a brief struggle. The officers searched him and found a silver pellet gun,

Gagne is also charged with a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest/detention.

Grant said the plea bargain would allow Gagne to plead guilty and be sentenced to 61 days of time he had already served in a county jail, with a three-year suspended prison sentence he could avoid if he abides by the terms of the deal.

Public defender Bill Schultz, who is representing Gagne, and Assistant County Attorney Joe Quinlan, the prosecutor on the case, did not return messages seeking comment Wednesday.

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